Story by SrA Tara Abrahams on 03/19/2018"School, study, sleep, repeat."
That was the life Senior Airman Brandon J. Fitch said he held himself to during his technical training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In addition to hundreds of hours in the Basic Medical Technician Corpsman Program classroom, he dedicated nearly every other waking minute of his time to reading course materials. His effort was worth the sacrifice.
Graduating with a GPA of 99.075 percent, Fitch earned the highest final grade in his schoolhouse's history.
"My goal from the beginning was to do as well as I could and put in the work," the reservist said. "I started seeing that the work paid off, so my goal changed to become the top GPA graduate in my class. When I was about halfway through the course, I changed that goal to highest GPA in history."
His strive for excellence stemmed from his interest in the medical field. Although he had no prior training, he had been thinking about it for years.
"I actually wanted to try out a medical position since basic training," he said, as he recalled the Self Aid Buddy Care class. "I watched how you're supposed to apply a combat tourniquet and I always thought that was cool. When I was coming up on my expiration of active-duty service, I was presented with the opportunity to enlist in the Reserve as a medical technician and I took advantage of it."
Before joining the 940th Air Refueling Wing, he served as a nuclear weapons technician at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. While he said he enjoyed his job, he decided to cross train to pursue his passion.
Fitch said he found BMTCP completely different than his nuclear weapons training. Since everything in his first technical school was classified, students were not allowed to have take-home material to study. The opportunity to continue learning outside of school hours was something new that he excitedly took advantage of.
"I always made sure I studied the daily assigned material the night before, as well as the morning of, as well as that following night," Fitch said. "So I was just keeping it a positive cyclical study routine."
The Reserve Citizen Airmen barely allowed himself any leisure time. From early in the morning until late at night, Fitch immersed himself in medical training, with a side of coffee. During study breaks, he talked to his wife over the phone. He said that was all he needed to keep his stress levels under control.
He would also talk to school leadership to keep his motivation high. In speaking with them, he learned more about their careers and it inspired him to continue working as hard as he could.
"I'd see where they are in their Air Force career because of the extra work they put in and not because the extra work was going to get them to the next step or the next position. I feel it's because people in the medical career field are truly devoted to their craft and becoming better medics and that culture is just really infectious."
At the end of the course, Fitch was presented with multiple awards and coins for his exemplary performance from those he looked up to.
"Your enthusiasm and total dedication to duty reflected credit upon yourself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Armed Forces and the Medical Education and Training campus," said Col. Jack M. Davis, U.S. Army Medical and Education and Training Campus commandant, in his Letter of Commendation. "I commend you for a job well done' and wish you continued success in your future endeavors."
Following graduation, Fitch returned to the 940th Aerospace Medicine Squadron here, ready for duty.
"I left tech school feeling very confident about my training," Fitch said. "I can respond to emergency situations, perform my roles as an EMT and an aerospace medical technician, in any setting required with confidence."
Since his return from Fort Sam Houston, Fitch decided to pursue the medical field even further. He is currently enrolled full-time at City College of San Francisco, where he is completing prerequisites for a nursing program. His plan is to transfer to San Francisco State University to obtain his Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and later commission back to active duty as a nurse.
"I'm so excited to be in (the medical) community now," he said. "I just want to keep climbing."